Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that Russia supports the Serb population in Kosovo and believes in the need to protect their legal rights and interests, as French President Emmanuel Macron blamed Pristina's authorities for their "failure" to respect a mediation agreement with Serbia brokered by senior EU figures to speed up its integration into the bloc.

Peskov told a daily news briefing that Moscow was following with interest the unrest in Kosovo, which has increased sharply since the inauguration of Albanian mayors in the Serb-majority northern region of the country after elections in April.

He added that his country unconditionally supports "Serbia and Serbs", saying that all legal rights and interests of Kosovo Serbs must be taken into account, and stressed that "provocative actions must not be given way".

Tension has been prevailing for days in areas where a large part of Serbs do not recognize Pristina's authority, where Serbs boycotted municipal elections in April.

Criticism of Kosovo

French President Emmanuel Macron said "the Kosovo authorities have decided not to respect the agreement we have reached" under the European mediation co-prepared by Paris in cooperation with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz "which has managed to make significant progress."

"We have made it clear to the Kosovo authorities that it was wrong to go ahead with these elections," Macron said.

NATO announced on Tuesday that it would send an additional 700 troops to Kosovo, with another military battalion on standby if Serbs continue to protest against Albanian mayors.

There are currently about 4,<> NATO troops in Kosovo.

On Friday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic put the army on full alert and ordered its units to move towards the border.

Serbia and its ally Russia did not recognize Kosovo's independence in 2008, Moscow has resisted Kosovo's bid to join the United Nations, and Belgrade still considers Kosovo part of its territory.

Some 120,1 Serbs live in Kosovo, a country of 8.<> million people, the majority of whom are Albanians.